The Beach by Alex Garland


8 Critic Reviews

An account of the search for a secluded utopia off the Thai coast, Garland's novel remains a cult read for young travellers.


The Khao San Road, Bangkok -- first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."

The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.

Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck -- the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man -- and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.

Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach by Alex Garland -- both a national bestseller and his debut -- is a highly accomplished and suspenseful novel that fixates on a generation in their twenties, who, burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it difficult to experience the world firsthand.

About Alex Garland

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Alex Garland is the author of the bestselling generational classic The Beach and of The Tesseract, a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book. He also wrote the original screenplay of the critically acclaimed film 28 Days Later.
Published July 5, 2005 by Riverhead Books. 446 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Education & Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Beach
All: 8 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 1


Above average

A mesmerizing first novel...manages to be many things at once: a smart look at a generation way beyond mere disillusionment, an anti- travelogue to the most exotic of locales, a study in small-group psychology, and a convincing profile in madness.

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Above average
on Jul 05 2009

An account of the search for a secluded utopia off the Thai coast, Garland's novel remains a cult read for young travellers.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average

At times, Garland seems to be trying to say something powerful about the perils of desiring a history-less Eden. But his evocations of Vietnam, Richard's hallucinatory the direction of thematic gravity don't add up to much.

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The Bookbag

on Dec 01 2012

Reading The Beach is an adventure in itself, offering escape in every page. A perfect book to read in winter with the rain battering at your window, you'll disappear off into your own little paradise world.

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Suite 101

Above average
on Feb 07 2011

The Beach is an exciting, quick read, and an excellent thriller. Garland's story keeps your pages turning.

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London Review of Books

Above average

There is suspense as well, indeed for much of its length The Beach is simply an efficient and rather traditional story about young people having adventures in an exotic setting.

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Alternative Magazine Online

on Jul 28 2009

Finally, the book works very well because it isn’t romanticised. As in real life, two people may be attracted and never end up together. The characters have faults, and by the end of the book Richard has a lot of scars.

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Mother Nature Network

Above average
on Jan 29 2013

This thrilling, debut tome from British novelist Alex Garland is basically “The Lord of the Flies” for the hedonistic Euro backpacking set. ...the book’s mesmerizing setting, Thailand, is an ideal reading locale.

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